Bookshelf: October 25, 2013

Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism

By Maajid Nawaz (October 25, 2013) - "Maajid Nawaz spent his teenage years listening to American hip-hop and learning about the radical Islamist movement spreading throughout Europe and Asia in the 1980s and 90s. At 16, he was already a ranking member in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a London-based Islamist group. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a top recruiter, a charismatic spokesman for the cause of uniting Islam's political power across the world. Nawaz was setting up satellite groups in Pakistan, Denmark, and Egypt when he was rounded up in the aftermath of 9/11 along with many other radical Muslims. He was sent to an Egyptian prison where he was, fortuitously, jailed along with the assassins of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The 20 years in prison had changed the assassins' views on Islam and violence; Maajid went into prison preaching to them about the Islamist cause, but the lessons ended up going the other way. He came out of prison four years later completely changed, convinced that his entire belief system had been wrong, and determined to do something about it. He met with activists and heads of state, built a network, and started a foundation, Quilliam, funded by the British government, to combat the rising Islamist tide in Europe and elsewhere. He began an activist group in Pakistan as well, using his intimate knowledge of recruitment tactics in order to reverse extremism and persuade Muslims that the 'narrative' used to recruit them (that the West is evil and the cause of all of Muslim suffering), is false. Radical, first published in the UK, is a fascinating and important look into one man's journey out of extremism and into something else entirely." (Lyons Press)


The Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path to American Leadership

By Al Sharpton (October 25, 2013) - "Lord knows, Reverend Al has had his personal and very public ups and downs -- but he's come out bigger and better than ever. Though the host of MSNBC's PoliticsNation is as fiery and outspoken as ever about the events and issues that matter most, he's learned that the only way we can get right as a nation is by getting right from within.

In this, his first book in over a decade, Reverend Al will take you behind the scenes of some unexpected places -- from officiating Michael Jackson's funeral, hanging out with Jay-Z and President Barack Obama at the White House, to taking charge of the Trayvon Martin case. And he will discuss how he came to his unexpected conclusions in such areas as immigration, gay rights, religion and the family. But the heart of this book is an intimate discussion of his own personal evolution from street activist, pulpit provocateur and civil rights leader to the man he is today -- one hundred pounds slim-mer, and according to the New York Observer, "the most thoughtful voice on cable." No, the Reverend Al you met ten years ago isn't the same man you'll meet today. And he has a simple promise. We can transform this nation and we can all lead better lives if we're willing to transform our hearts and transform our minds." (Cash Money Content)


An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist

By Richard Dawkins
(October 25, 2013) - "In An Appetite for Wonder, Richard Dawkins shares a rare view into his early life, his intellectual awakening at Oxford, and his path to writing The Selfish Gene. He paints a vivid picture of his idyllic childhood in colonial Africa, peppered with sketches of his colorful ancestors, charming parents, and the peculiarities of colonial life right after World War II. At boarding school, despite a near-religious encounter with an Elvis record, he began his career as a skeptic by refusing to kneel for prayer in chapel. Despite some inspired teaching throughout primary and secondary school, it was only when he got to Oxford that his intellectual curiosity took full flight. Here, for the first time, is an intimate memoir of the childhood and intellectual development of the evolutionary biologist and world-famous atheist, and the story of how he came to write what is widely held to be one of the most important books of the twentieth century." (Harper Collins Press)


Blowback


By Valerie Plame and Sarah Lovett (October 25, 2013) - "Covert CIA ops officer Vanessa Pierson is finally close to capturing the world's most dangerous international nuclear arms dealer: Bhoot, alias the ghost. One of her assets has information about Bhoot's upcoming visit to a secret underground nuclear weapons facility in Iran -- in only a few days. But just as Pierson's informant is about to give her the location, they're ambushed by an expert sniper. Pierson narrowly escapes. Her asset: dead. Desperate to capture Bhoot and the sniper before they inflict more damage, Pierson enlists all of the Agency's resources to find them. But with each day, the pressure of the manhunt mounts, causing her to push her forbidden romance with a fellow ops officer to its limit when she asks him to do the impossible. Despite the risks, she refuses to halt her pursuit of the terrorists, and she puts her cover and her career -- and her life -- at risk. With rapid-cut shifts from European capitals to Washington to the Near East, and with insider detail that only a former spy could provide, Blowback marks the explosive beginning of the hunt for Bhoot, the villain whom Vanessa Pierson devotes her life to capturing, dead or alive." (Penguin)